When Labour was Racist…


The Labour Party is not Communist (Communists are ‘proscribed’ from joining), but it does aspire to various grades of Socialism, albeit firmly within a capitalist system. As a bourgeois left political entity, it remains the only political entity likely to represent the working class in Parliament, although since the rise of the rightwing Tony Blair in the 1990’s (a clone of Thatcher), Labour’s representation of the working class has remained ‘patchy’ to say the least. Between 1997 and 2010, neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown reversed a single Thatcherite anti-working-class reform, but continued to oppress the workers, demonise the disabled and sell-off the NHS. The only remotely ‘Socialist’ policy was that of ‘free’ bus passes for the elderly brought in by Gordon Brown – legislation so poorly thought-out that a number of Local Councils (and private bus companies) has chosen to introduce ‘charges’ for anyone using these passes on buses in their areas. Jeremy Corbyn is probably a Trotskyite who erroneously thinks capitalism can be reformed – so be it. This is all the working class has at the moment for any kind of election success. This is not a Marxist-Leninist position, but it is an expedient that can be used within the liberal, democratic tradition that capitalism prefers. As the Labour Party represents a broad section of British society at large, it naturally possesses members of varying political quality, each adhering to various viewpoints and perspectives. However, as Labour has historically associated itself in principle with progressive Marxism, the onus has been upon ‘Internationalism’ as opposed to ‘Nationalism’. In practical terms, this has meant the pursuance of anti-racist policies over racist policies – the exact opposite of the Conservative Party. There is no doubt that political parties existing within Bourgeois States, from time to time, manifest all kinds of inconsistencies and odd or bizarre rhetorical and practical manifestations, but considering that the Labour Party has always been deeply rooted in the Jewish community (with many Jews being Communists and Socialists), anti-Semitism has not been the problem it has been historically for the Tories (and their far-right allies). History is replete with examples of Tories eulogising Hitler (and other fascist leaders) and turning a blind eye to his numerous pogroms. Although it would not be true to say that Labour has always supported the progressive Communist cause (see Malaya and Greece post-WWII, where Labour deployed the British Army to crush Communist insurgencies), it is true that prior to the US-generated Cold War (which Labour fulling supported), the Labour Party – through its Communist-leaning MPs and members – always took the side of the workers. Has Labour ever been racist? The answer is ‘yes’ and on numerous occasions, but this racism has not been anti-Semitic, but rather anti-Black and Asian (with typical Eurocentric attitudes usually manifested by individuals rather than through deliberate policy), although of course, in the case of London’s Chinese population in 1946, things were different. British Chinese people share the dubious distinction of being the chosen ethnicity to be scapegoated following the UK’s victories in WWI and WWII. In 1919, and following a xenophobic and nationalist outpouring, the government of the day (not Labour) decided to expel around 20,000 British Chinese people (on boats back to China). This proved to be a very popular move amongst the White British. In 1946, following a similar backlash against foreigners, the incumbent Labour Party decided to clear-out the Limehouse Chinatown district in East London. The police arrested all the Chinese men as they went to work and placed them on boats – with their families never seeing them again. English women married to Chinese men were visited by Social Workers, their children took into care, and branded ‘sexual deviants’. Chinese women went into hiding (often with their children) until the danger passed. The British-Sri Lankan journalist George Alagiah dedicates an episode of his excellent ‘Mixed Britannia’ documentary series to this topic and interviews the descendants of the survivors of this pogrom in the UK. Again, the pursuance of this anti-Chinese pogrom proved very popular amongst White British (both Labour and Tory), and as far as I am aware, the Labour Party has never acknowledged this despicable aspect of its history or offered an apology to the Chinese people – who were allies of the UK in WWI and WWII. With all due respect to the British Jewish community, they are predominantly ‘White’ in ethnicity, with the media turning anti-Semitism into something of a privileged fetish, whilst ignoring very real examples of true or genuine Eurocentric racism. In the meantime, workers should unite, join the Communist Party and over-throw the oppressive and regressive forces of capitalism. In such an event, even the bourgeois Labour Party might honour its Red Flag and its Socialist past!

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